Just this morning, one of my friends tagged me in a fan art they found somewhere on the Internet on Facebook. It was a 4 panel comic featuring Ash Ketchum and N, both from the Pokémon franchise. The comic itself was in Japanese. While I initially glanced over the comic and came into conclusion I couldn’t read most of it, a second glance later on made me realize I actually could understand most of it. Quite well, actually. It was my friend commenting about how they didn’t know what was going on, but they liked it, that made me take a second look at it. Once I realized that I could read most of it, I switched into translator mode and translated the comic pretty quickly.
Another time, in one of the Facebook groups I’m in, someone posted a picture featuring never before seen stock art of Ash, next to a bunch of Japanese text. Everyone seemed to be fawning over the pose, except me. When I read the first line of text on the image – a question about where Ash’s father was – I got excited and posted about it, which prompted two people being like “TRANSLATE! TRANSLATE!”. I happily translated the post, which didn’t give any new information about Ash’s father.
When I translate these texts for other people, I get reminded of my days of wanting to learn Japanese. I remember being back in middle school, intensely in love with anime and manga, seeing Japanese and wishing I could learn it so desperately, but I knew of no classes. I remember looking at Japanese thinking “I wish I could read that!”. I remember having friends who could read Japanese, some who could even understand it. I remember being the ones asking them to read things or translate things for me that I couldn’t. I was so jealous and REALLY wanted to learn it, but had no way of doing so (or at least it appeared that way). Irememberbeing on the side of “oh! oh! can you translate this for me!” and “I wonder what that says…”.
Each time I translate a piece of text for a friend and do so in a rather clear way without much confusion or have a conversation in Japanese with people on Twitter, I always feel the need to give myself a slight pat on the back for a good job at getting this far. Five years ago, I would have never thought I would get to the point of being able to read simple Japanese texts with relative ease. I know I still have a long way to go, but the tiny achievements are still highly rewarding in my eyes. It simply reminds me of the progress I have made so far and how much I still have to make. It honestly makes me feel good. It’s proof to me of how far I have come in my Japanese learning journey and gives me the courage and confidence to keep on moving forward.